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Penal Code 647(i) “Peeping Tom” Law

Mar 4, 2019 | Penal Code

Under California Penal Code Section 647(i), also known as the “peeping Tom” law, it is illegal to peek into a door or window on someone else’s private property without the consent of the owner for observing persons who are inside.

To Be Convicted of Penal Code 657(i) Prosecutor Must Prove

The prosecutor must establish the following elements for convicting the defendant in the offense of peeking while loitering:

  • Defendant lingered, delayed, wandered or prowled on another person’s private property
  • Defendant did not have a lawful purpose for being another person’s property
  • Defendant peeked in the door or window of an inhabited building or structure when he was on the property

What is California Penal Code 647(i)?

Under California Penal Code 647(i) any building which is used as a residence can be considered an inhabited structure. It is not important whether someone is inside at the time of peeking or not, a person can be charged with peeking while loitering even if no one is at the property.

Is “Specific Intent” Required in Peeping Tom Penal Code 647(i) Cases?

Penal Code 647(i) doesn’t require specific intent, and it is not important why a person decided to peek into a door or window on someone else’s private property. So a person can be convicted even if he entered the property without intent to loiter or peek.

Defenses for Peeking Loitering Charges

Defendant had a reason to be on property

In case the defendant had a lawful reason to be on property (working as contractor or was a meter reader or surveyor), he can’t be found guilty under Penal Code Section 647(i).

Defendant was not on a private property

As an essential element of this offense defendant must be on a private property. It is not unlawful to look through the window or a door of an inhabited structure while standing or being on public property or your own property.

Defendant entered an uninhabited building or structure

In case the defendant was peeked into an uninhabited structure or former inhabited dwelling he should not face a peeking while loitering conviction.

What are the Penalties for Penal Code Section 647(i) Conviction?

Under California Penal Code Section 647(i) unlawful peeking is a misdemeanor offence and the penalties are the following:

  • Up to six months in a county jail,
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Misdemeanor probation

The penalties for second or subsequent offense or a first time offense in case the person being viewed is a minor are the following:

  • Up to one year in a county jail,
  • A fine of up to $2,000

Defendant’s Criminal History a Factor in Sentencing Penal Code 647(i) Conviction

Depending on the case circumstances and the defendant’s criminal history he can be sentenced to misdemeanor probation instead of the jail time. Judge may impose different conditions on that probation, such as periodic court appearances, paying restitution to the victim or staying away from the property and the victim, not committing this offense anywhere else. In case the defendant has two or more prior felony convictions, a prior felony conviction during which he was armed or a prior conviction for a serious felony he can’t be entitled to informal probation.

California Penal Code 647(i) Lawyer

For answers to any other questions you may still have about California Penal Code 657(i) charges or to discuss your case confidentially with our team of experienced California criminal defense attorneys give us a call at 310-933-5171. Our lawyers in Glendale, Los Angeles County, CA, are highly dedicated to serving the needs of our clients.